Superfluous man  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The Superfluous Man is a Russian literary concept. It relates to an individual, possibly of talent and capability, who does not fit into the state-centered pattern of employment. The consequence may be a man who apparently is lazy and ineffectual.

It was popularized in The Diary of a Superfluous Man by Ivan Turgenev, Ivan Goncharov's Oblomov and Dostoevsky's Notes from Underground. Other, earlier examples of the superfluous man in Russian literature include Alexandr Griboyedov's character Chatsky in the play "Woe from Wit," and the titular character in Alexandr Pushkin's novel in verse Eugene Onegin. Albert Jay Nock later titled his autobiography, Memoirs of a Superfluous Man. Yet, this concept is not to be confused with the idea of the superfluous hero, whose world weariness leads to ennui. This character type originates out of Lord Byron's Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, which inspired Pushkin to write his novel in poetry Eugene Onegin.

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